Green Infrastructure

What is Green Infrastructure?

Green infrastructure is the use of designed green space, including gardens and trees, to reduce the negative impacts of stormwater runoff, such as flooding and water pollution. It is an alternative or supplement to traditional “grey” infrastructure such as pipes, tunnels and concrete basins for managing stormwater. It is being embraced by cities around the world because of its rich benefits for both the environment and for communities. Unlike grey infrastructure, green infrastructure is mostly above ground and creates a host of benefits, from beautification to improved health and reduced crime. Additionally, it is often more cost effective than grey solutions. 


Rendering above by Robert A.M. Stern Architects

Benefits

Creates long-term jobs

Grey stormwater infrastructure costs can reduce, the local economy is stimulated, and new construction and long-term maintenance jobs are created. 

Improves health

Health and healing rates improve, especially for respiratory, stress and physical activity‐related conditions as green infrastructure improves air quality and creates a more reflective and inviting outdoor space (varies by condition).
 

Improves public safety

Crime reduces (27% shown for narcotics traffic). Well designed and properly maintained green spaces create safer community gathering spaces with more eyes on the street.

Positively impacts property values

Neighborhoods stabilize as home values improve significantly (11‐30%), leading homeowners to stay in their homes and the neighborhood is made more attractive for newcomers.

Improves water quality

Rain and melting snow are captured and filtered right where it falls, preventing sewer overflows which discharge polluted runoff and untreated sewage into natural waterways. 

Improves air quality

Small bits of dust, chemicals, and metals that contaminate the air we breathe are filtered and stored by trees and vegetation. 

Increases plant and wildlife biodiversity

New habitat allowed bird, mammal, amphibian, reptile, and insect populations to flourish.

Sequesters carbon

Carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is captured and stored by soil and vegetation. 

Reduces flooding

Flood waters are collected, absorbed, and filtered, helping reduce or prevent local flooding and river floods.